Keith Earls on course to return for Munster

Player may be back for crunch URC tie with Leinster on Saturday week

Keith Earls is on course for a Munster return after missing the Six Nations with a thigh injury and he could be back for the crunch URC tie with Leinster on Saturday week.

The 34-year-old has stepped up his training load and while he won’t be involved in this Friday’s clash against Benetton Rugby in Cork, he could make his return the following weekend.

Senior coach Stephen Larkham is reluctant to put a timeline on the injury but, barring any further setbacks, Earls should definitely be back for the Champions Cup games against Exeter Chiefs if he doesn’t make it for the Leinster tie.

“Earlsy is tracking really well, back into a bit of training this week, not full training, but he’s stepped up his load from last week,” said Larkham.


“I wouldn’t want to put a timeline on it, but judging by how he’s training at the moment, next week’s game is not out of the question, we were shooting for the week after. When you get to the back end of these rehab stages you just have to make sure everything is tick-tock before you move on to the playing field.

“Like I said, he’s trained well this week, but we’ll see how he goes at the back end of this week and next week.”


But Larkham ruled out any possibility of a return before the end of the season for Springbok RG Snyman, who suffered a second cruciate injury back in October.

“Highly doubtful, it’d be a miracle,” added Larkham. “He’s an amazing player.”

Andrew Conway is on course for a return, possibly against his native Leinster on Saturday week but, again, a timeline has not been established as he hasn’t returned to the Munster fold from Six Nations duty, having missed the game against Scotland with a knee injury.

Gavin Coombes, Craig Casey and Jeremy Loughman have returned from Irish camp and are available for Friday night’s clash with the Italians in Musgrave Park.

And while the losses in South Africa to the Bulls and Lions have left little wriggle for Munster in the jostling for places near the top of the URC, Larkham feels the benefits of training at altitude for the past couple of weeks, along with bonding from a trip like that, leaves them in a good position going into this clash on Friday without their frontline internationals.

“Timing is good,” said Larkham about the tour. “If we picked up one win out of those two it could have been even better for us, but we bounced back this week, there’s a real buzz in the place reconnecting with the guys who are back in from the Six Nations.

“The altitude and heat affected the boys, but they’re really feeling fit at the moment. Everything we went through on the tour, lots of dinners out, lots of time playing cards, socialising together and it certainly brought us together a lot more than if we’d been at home. It’s the back end of the season now and it’s going to put us in good stead.”